Do you have to die to be a hero?


Renowned African musician Oliver Mutukudzi in one of his master pieces did a song entitled; what is a hero?
In this mind gripping song, the jazz maestro poses rather difficult questions about what constitutes a hero or heroine for that matter.
Sings the musician;
‘What does it say to be a hero?’
And then;
‘Do you have to die to be a hero?’

Perhaps this song has strong relevance to every Namibian this week, as we celebrate the contributions of our unsung known and unknown campaigners for independence, whose blood waters our freedom. These gallant daughters and sons of the soil, deceased and alive, paid ultimate sacrifices to make Namibia what it is today. They had to leave the comfort of their own homes and go to unknown lands with the quest of championing a new dispensation of the country, one that is characterised by self rule and independence?

What have we done for our heroes?
Twenty four years down the line and in the York of independence it is very disheartening to realise that some of these sons of the soil who went through difficulty while waging a liberation struggle against a resilient South African colonial regime, live in Namibia without basic necessities. There are many of them across the country who have been featured by the fourth estate in near appalling conditions. Some complain that they are neglected and they only matter to the government or anybody, when heroes’ day approaches. This, so that they can show face, at times, dressed for the occasion to paint a good picture.
Once again what is a hero, and do they have to die to be accorded such status. One would imagine that after paying such difficult sacrifices they should be catered for by Government – like true heroes.
Is it not humiliating that our heroines and heroes have to survive on N$2000 per month? Considering the high cost of leaving in Namibia, how much comfort can one derive from earning that amount of money?
Perhaps the sad reality is that it is good enough for their groceries and they will have to cater for the rest.
Government needs to sort out modalities and frameworks that can make life comfortable and albeit at a cost for these heroes. The same should also be done for those heroes who perished in the liberation struggle.
Remembered today forgotten tomorrow
There is a stern challenge that the Ministry of Veterans Affairs need to be given. Minister Nickey Iyambo needs to remember that in light of their selfless contribution to the liberation of the country these people do not deserve to be remembered on Heroes holidays alone. The Ministry of Veterans Affairs needs to come up with a plan that at least makes these heroes and heroines, more so, those who are languishing in the york of poverty are taken care off. We certainly do not need to wait for them to die to accord them the heroes’ lifestyle that they deserve.

What needs to be done?
Perhaps this is the opportunity that we take a rare moment and write an open letter to The Right Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Hage Geingob and the Minister of Veterans Affairs Iyambo. In this letter the issues for discussion are very simple. We ask Government to give due diligence in dealing with our heroes and heroines so they can enjoy the fruits of independence while they are still alive.
There is certainly no need for these heroes and heroines to go through the acid test of either political or economic benefits because for all we know they have already proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are worthy of the salt and need to be taken care of. It was humiliating and if not disheartening, JOHN ya Otto Nankudhu, the man who will go down in the annals of Namibian history as having commanded the unit of SWAPO’s armed wing, the People Liberation Army of Namibia, died in appalling conditions.
One columnist, in a column entitled Everybody Hates Jeremiah once wrote that; ‘a heroic status in Namibia carries as much meaning to the heroes, as Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize does to Namibians; and it’s normally as lasting as an Ndilimani Cultural Troupe song, ask Jackson Kaujeua.’ Today we are left with no choice but to concur with the writing.
While still pondering as to when Government is planning to come to the party. Or maybe the last men standing should die before they are accorded their heroic statuses.
Questions to the President
This year will mark President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s last heroes’ day address in his capacity as the Head of State.
The nation would want to hear whether the President is satisfied with the plight of his fellow heroes and heroines. Is he satisfied that on his watch, at time in which the country saw numerous transformations, some of the country’s heroes are only remembered when Heroes Day comes? It will be interesting to know whether there are any other incentives that these gallant sons and daughters of the soil are getting. While many could see this space as a challenge we perhaps believe that this has to be said or else we shall forever be quiet.